Saturday, November 30, 2013

By a Way You Do Not Know

Moses and the children of Israel were hemmed in. Before them was the Red Sea. Behind them, Pharaoh’s army was closing in. They could see no way out. Only days earlier, they had been filled with hope and rejoicing, but now that had quickly vanished. In Psalm 77, in a direct praise to God, the psalm writer recounts what happened next:
The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
(Psalm 77:18-20)
God did something completely unexpected: He made a path through the great waters of the sea. It was not there before they needed it and it closed in after they passed through it. But just when they needed a way, God made a path for them where they did not even know to look. When they first beheld the sea, all they saw was an impossible situation. But as Jesus said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27). And the children of Israel walked through the sea on dry land.

Think of Abram. He was the son of an idol maker — a trade completely antithetical to the God of the Bible — and he was getting on in years. But one day God came to him anyway and said, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Then God made wonderful promises to him: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).

So Abram believed and did as the Lord directed, though he had no idea where all this would take place or even how it would take place. After all, he was already 75 years old, and so was his wife, Sarai, who was well past child-bearing years. So what God promised him was impossible, at least from Abram’s point of view. But it came to pass anyway, and from him came a great nation — and a Redeemer — through whom all the families of the earth can now be blessed.

Finally, in the book of Isaiah, God describes how He will bring His people through, by a way they do not know.
I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.
(Isaiah 42:16)
Our human nature always wants to see the way before us, but God often leads us by ways we do not know, ways we would not recognize or understand even if we could see them. Our part, then, is not to see but to trust. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). God makes a way for us that we could never have imagined, and leads us through.

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